Committee welcomes decrease in Blue Badge backlog
Session: Session currently unavailable
Date: 07 December 2016
Reference: CfI 13/16/17
The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Infrastructure has welcomed the decrease in the backlog in processing Blue Badge applications.
The backlog, which now stands at 4304, has been decreasing since the Committee first raised the issue with the Department in October and was reported to the Committee in a progress report delivered to the Committee.
Chairperson of the Committee William Humphrey MLA said: "My Committee is pleased that the Department has responded positively to our criticisms of the way it was dealing with the backlog of Blue Badge applications.
"We received a briefing from the Department in October where we were told of the actions that were being taken to speed up applications—particularly those that had been in the system for more than eight weeks.
"We are gratified to learn that as of this week that the backlog has now halved and, more importantly, that the number of applications that have been in the system for more than eight weeks has now fallen to 39, from a previous figure of 3,600 in mid October.
"My Committee is also encouraged by the Department's action in employing extra staff to process this backlog; currently there are eight civil servants and eight agency staff, this represents an increase of one agency staff and a permanent post for a vacant civil service post. These new hires have clearly made a difference.
"I note that staff from the Blue Badge Unit and the Parking Enforcement Unit have been working overtime each Saturday to clear the backlog, something that is commendable but should have been implemented sooner.
Mr Humphrey concluded: "We are pleased that the Department is finally getting a handle on this serious issue. We will keep pressing the Minister to ensure that not only is it resolved, but that processes are put in place to guarantee that such a backlog cannot reoccur."